Boycott – Hot Docs 2022


Boycott – Hot Docs 2022

When a news publisher in Arkansas, an attorney in Arizona and a speech therapist in Texas are told they must choose between their jobs and their political beliefs, they launch legal battles.

Individuals fight against laws banning boycotts against Israel in . Over the past six years, 33 states have passed laws preventing boycotts against Israel. In response, a number of individuals are going to court to argue that these laws are unconstitutional. These plaintiffs include Alan Leveritt, the publisher of The Arkansas Times newspaper, who is at risk of losing advertisers, and Bahia Amawi, a Palestinian-American speech therapist in Austin, who lost work as a result of refusing to agree to the anti-boycott law.

Boycott is a documentary by Julia Bacha, which looks into the recent laws passed in the United States that forbid boycotts of Israel. However, according to legal experts, this law goes against the First Amendment of the United States constitution, which protects political boycotts as freedom of expression. The film looks into the reasoning for these laws and their connection to the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

One of the first interviewees seen in Boycott is evangelical Christian Republican Arkansas senator Bart Hester, who probably becomes to most unlikable figure in the film, as he proudly boasts his support of the anti-boycott bill out of some misguided “freedom of religion” rhetoric. Boycott makes sure to emphasize that opposition to the laws has less to do with the Jewish religion and more about Israel's poor human rights record, particularly against the Palestinian people. The film also points out that the laws set a dangerous president, opening the doors to ban other types of political boycotts. As such, this makes Boycott an incredibly timely documentary.

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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